In the beautiful city of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, ran the river of what I would like to call “gold.” On either side of the river were the most beautiful homes, many with a history of their own. There it felt like you were in yacht alley, not just little boats but enormous ships that looked like floating hotels. During the ride down the river, we learned from our guide about the owners. I was amazed that one small family or a couple would own something so massive. The meandering of the river through this valley of gold gave me a moment to pause and reflect on my overwhelming emotions. The sight that stood before me took my breath away, and gave me that feeling of amazement. At the same time slowly floating down this city river gave me a sense of calm and wonder. My thoughts would turn to, “Who are these people that live in such luxury, whether a mansion, yacht, or maybe both?” Still all around these golden wonders life continued on as if nothing was out of the ordinary or different from the rest of the world. Upon our return, the thrill of a river, literally full of lights everywhere blew me away. Talk about an amazing sight! Seeing all the glory and once again, it brought me to a point to pause and wonder…
What is the difference between you, me, and the people that live at the ‘river of gold?’ It is the simple fact of dreaming and then working the dream. Dreams can come in different forms. It is not always to be wealthy and have no cares at all. Your dreams, as mine, might be totally different or they may be the same. I base my dreams on what God wants for my life. It is easy to say, “Whatever you want for me Lord” and then go on your merry little way ignoring the steps God has planned for you. The first step is to write your dream in detail. This turns the thoughts into something tangible that can be worked on. It also makes it a reality that WILL HAPPEN.
I will never forget an incident in 2006. As an inspirational speaker, I wanted to put on my own Women’s Retreat. I already had the vision of the name, “Renewing Your Spirit.” The one fear of mine was that it couldn’t be a spiritual retreat because I didn’t know enough. Besides that, who would want to come and listen to what I had to say on the subject? In fact, what would the subjects even be about? I wanted to be safe and on the fence and not offend anyone with the event. In general I talked about it so much, I’m sure my family and friends were getting tired of hearing about it. I had the opportunity through an organization I belonged to for two free sessions with a marketing coach. We talked about many things and once again I brought up this idea of a Women’s Retreat. She said one thing to me that changed everything: “When & Where?” I was on that phone stumped into total silence. My first thoughts were, “Oh no, what have I gotten myself into? What was I going to do?” I had one more session and she wanted my answer by the next month. I can tell you that entire month, I worried myself almost to the point of being sick.
That whole month I couldn’t make up my mind: there are so many places to go, should it be in the fall, winter, spring, or summer, how long should it be, and how would I ever figure the cost. Understand; I have always had a problem with pricing. It had been drummed into my head to not give away the store. My only problem was, in my insecurity of not having any degrees or background, what gave me the right to give my opinion? The overall question for the month was, “How was I ever going to come up with the answers?” This should not have been hard: remember, it was a dream of mine so what’s the big deal? It wasn’t like I was planning a huge conference, maybe 20 women. It became a huge obstacle for me and that old thought of, “who would want to come to something I put on, once again plagued me?!”
When I had my next session, the first question was, “Well?” At this point I still had not made up my mind on anything. I took a deep breath; paused; blew out the little bit of breath still in my lungs and said, “Carmel, the month of April 2007.” This was only going to give me 5 months to plan. I thought to myself, “YOU ARE CRAZY!” Once I said it, I knew it would happen and it became a reality. We went to the Carmel Valley Lodge in Carmel Valley and had a marvelous time. Was it perfect? Of course not, but we did have lots of fun. There was still some reserve in my presentations because I was still a little afraid of the ladies getting the wrong idea, so the subjects remained very general. No threat to anyone! I did a second retreat the following year in the Mendocino area but once again, I wanted to be very careful not to offend anyone by having the retreat TOO spiritual.
I love how God will help us address even the silliest of our fears. One month after the retreat to Mendocino I had decided to plan a second one at the same location in 2009. Everyone seemed happy with the retreat, so why not do the same thing for 2009, I thought. WRONG! God had another idea and He would not let me go any other direction. Even though the enemy, satan was doing everything possible to discourage me, it was to be a spiritually based weekend. Talk about fear, but God had promised me that every woman would break barriers that weekend. I was, once again, afraid. I am happy to report, and in total awe of God’s magnificent power, by the end of the weekend, every one of those nine women broke through a major barrier in their life. What a great God we have! He even proved Himself more by sending three eagles to fly overhead on the morning of my discouragement about how the retreat was going; maybe the promise was not going to be fulfilled. Those eagles were the reminder that God was there and the miracle would happen. Thank you Lord, for your steadfastness and answer to your promise to show your strength to my doubting spirit.
Once again, dreams are only as big as you can imagine. God’s visions for us are even bigger if we are willing to walk with Him moment-by-moment and follow His direction. On one of our trips, we went through the Panama Canal…now there was a HUGE dream fulfilled. What would have happened if the authors of this project had given up because it just seemed too hard? Their dream of a canal helping the travelers get from one side of the continent to the other without extending the trip tenfold had created this marvelous landmark that helps and amazes millions. Whether your dreams are small or large, God is there to guide you all the way if you are willing.
As you think about the locks, which raises the water level either up or down so the ships can pass, you may have the need to raise the levels of your dream. You want to have a continued connection with God. He is your pipeline to achievement. When you are walking in step with Him you may find some bumps or curves and the path may not be completely straight but we need to be praying, “I’m single-minded in pursuit of you; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted.” God has blessings and favors waiting for you as you walk this line with Him.
There are things that the enemy uses to stop you and get you off course from your dreams. Some of the biggest stoppers are your emotions like doubt, worry, and one of the biggest of all is the feeling of unworthiness. You know those thoughts like, “I’m not good enough to have my dreams fulfilled.” “I don’t know enough to accomplish anything.” “Why try, I never finish anything I set out to do.” How about this one? “I’m not very intelligent and smart enough for anything good to come my way.”
I’m sure you may have an old story that is running in your head. I want you to be aware of where that old story is coming from. It is the deceiver, satan. First he gets you listening to it, then he gets you to think on in, then he gets you to dwell on it, and then he gets you to act on it. By turning any one of those steps over to God, it will CUT the hold he has over you. Instead of letting the deceiver trap you, surround yourself with the words of encouragement from God. Listen, think, dwell, then ACT on God’s Word and direction and your path will be smooth. I didn’t say it would be easy, but it will be smoother and you have your pilot in the main seat heading you towards success and fulfillment of your dreams and His vision for your life.
Sometimes, even when you are trying to follow God, it may feel like you are alone but this is where faith comes in and you need to trust that He is there. Do you believe Him? I do! Even in my weakest moments I know He is there ready to guide me along. What do you believe? Are you ready to trust Him?
When things are not working out use this statement:
In times of distress, instead of talking about all the problems…talk about the GOD of POSSIBILITIES!
Psalm 119: 10 (The Message)